The Funeral Singer

Thanh Hoang
2015 | 15 minutes| Vietnam, U.S.A.
New York Premiere | Director in Attendance

Anh chi Bay makes a living composing melodies for the recently deceased in a village in northern Vietnam. His task is to celebrate life and family through the process of death and grieving, and his relationship with mortality is intimate. Traditionally, he would pass on this unique role to his oldest son—but Anh chi Bay has only daughters. Through his eyes and those of his eldest daughter, The Funeral Singer explores how we find purpose in our work and how we understand our legacy.

Followed by Driving with Selvi

Thresholds, My Perspective

Women are expected to get married and serve their husbands and children, while men are to build glory for the family. In The Funeral Singer, Mr. Bay rather accepts a possible extinction of his music legacy than pass it to a daughter. His family story and melodies reflect the certain boundaries of men and women in Vietnam society. I remember when making this film, the villagers kept questioning me (a woman)—who am I to tell this story? And why I not yet married? In this film, I bring out the contradictory, not trying to solve it but simply to understand it.

- Thanh Hoang | Director, The Funeral Singer